Healthy eating habits are important at any age, but as you get older, your metabolism slows down, senses and mental sharpness weaken, energy levels decrease and chronic diseases are likely to develop.
Changing your eating habits and leading an active lifestyle can help a great deal in improving the overall wellness, raise your energy levels and strengthen your immune system. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean dieting and being hungry. It’s more about choosing the right fresh ingredient and adopting a positive outlook on life.
Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to make crucial changes in your eating habits and here are tips on how to achieve that goal.
Maintaining a healthy weight
As your body ages, there will be noticeable changes in its makeup. You will experience some muscle loss which can lead to frailty and if you’re not particularly physically active, you’ll burn fewer calories which may lead to weight gain if you continue eating the same amount of food as when you were younger.
However, fewer calories don’t mean you’ll need fewer nutrients. On the contrary, you’ll need to make sure you eat foods that are nutrient-dense in order to feed your body properly and maintain optimal health. It’s also important you watch your weight but what is optimal weight varies from one person to another. Two standard measures that can indicate the right weight are BMI index and your waist circumference and this can give you an indication where you stand.
Establishing healthy eating habits
Establishing healthy habits at an older age principally means ensuring you get the right amount of quality nutrients. Nutrient-dense food is food packed with vitamins, minerals and other essentials that your body needs on a daily basis.
These foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, soy or rice milk, seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. The food you should try to avoid is sugary drinks, desserts, food with butter, white bread, rice and pasta made of refined grains.
Creating a healthy eating plan
Creating a healthy eating plan and sticking to it can be hard, especially if you live alone and have a limited budget. It takes some effort, planning and a smarter distribution of your budget. One practical and functional solution is deciding to join one of the high-quality senior retirement villages where your eating habits will already be planned for you. The restaurants there serve a daily menu made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients prepared on-site and tailored to your taste and needs.
If you choose to stay in your home, then portion control is your first step. A lot of people eat more than they need, especially if eating out or getting a takeaway meal. Strategies that can help you maintain control are avoiding eating in front of any screen, always read the nutrition labels to learn the calorie content, avoid adding salt to your meals and resist consuming sugary beverages and sweets as much as you can.
You can also make things a lot easier if you plan and cook ahead and freeze the portions so on some days you’ll be free from cooking. Keep frozen or canned vegetables and fruits so you can have a quick and healthy meal. Eliminate trans and saturated fats and stick to healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat more, smaller meals during the day and if possible, in good company.
Staying physically active
Regular physical activity is recommended for all ages, but it’s particularly important at a senior age. It can improve your endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. It may add years to your life and keep you healthy longer, but it can also significantly improve your energy levels and mood.
Healthy eating habits, a well-balanced diet packed with nutrient-dense food, good company and social support and an active lifestyle are the magic ingredients that will help you spend your golden years healthy and worry-free.